*sizzle* Hear that? It’s quite hot. You might want a fan for this update. Oh, and nosebleed warning.
Chapter 17.1 – When You Listen to Me Speak (1)
Tong Yan slowly nodded her head. Her heart, which had been clenched tightly, loosened, but in that instant, her arms still felt limp.
As he spoke, he swiped open the room door with his key card, all the while still keeping one hand over her eyes. With his other hand, he picked up her backpack from the ground and then guided her into the room.
Trepidation still lingered in Tong Yan’s heart, and from her lips, the question slipped out, “You’re really okay?” But after saying this, she realized that he could not see her speaking.
“I discovered today at noon that the patio here is very beautiful, and I wanted to bring you here to see. But, the bedroom is very inviting as well.” Gu Pingsheng shut the door and set the backpack on the couch. “Which one would Mrs. Gu like to see first?”
Her lips pursed together, then lifted up into a smile.
This man was covering her eyes and standing behind her, so although he was asking a question, he did not appear as if he was going to let her answer.
She followed along with his steps and slowly moved forward.
When he released his hand and she saw in front of her the completely enclosed patio, she finally understood what he meant by “beautiful.” The patio was actually suspended. Beneath their feet was a transparent glass floor, and when she lowered her head, she could see a pond and several koi swimming inside. Above their heads was the night sky that could not be considered very clear, for only very faintly could the stars and moon be discerned.
Indeed, this was designed for people on vacation. It was so large it was frightening.
In order to allow people to sit and rest, there was even a very large L-shaped sofa and a tinted glass coffee table.
“I was honestly frightened terribly just now.” Although Tong Yan was enjoying the lovely surroundings, she still did not forget to continue discussing what had happened earlier. “Next time, when I send you a message, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you must reply to me right away.”
“Even when I’m in class?”
“Even when you’re in class.”
“Even when I’m in a meeting?”
“Even when you’re in a meeting.” Without any hesitation, she stated, “Work is not important; your safety is most important.”
Perhaps for the average person, this sort of request truly was very unreasonable.
However, with that first time from before and today’s second time, she was genuinely afraid. In particular, just a moment ago, when she was searching for the telephone number, she had nearly thought through every possibility of what might have happened. The human imagination was the most fearsome thing, for it could utterly demolish all judgment and calm.
The most important point was, these were not based completely on imagination. They were all things that were possible.
“It’s my fault.” Smiling, he moved so that he was close up against her. “I agree to everything you have requested.”
His face was very close, so close that she could smell the scent of his breath. Tong Yan jumped in alarm, and shifting her face away, she reminded him, “This place is surrounded by glass …”
With an “mm,” Gu Pingsheng told her, “The glass is rather special. We can see other people, but those people can’t see us.”
Tong Yan understood this, but she still thought that it was a very weird feeling.
Through the glass, you could see the night sky, the surrounding grove of trees, as well as, near and far, the lights with their dim glow. Possibly in order to create ambiance, there were not many high street lamps and rather, more lights were embedded into the paths.
Tong Yan felt Gu Pingsheng’s fingers lightly stroke her face, brows, and eyes. For a few seconds, his hand obstructed her sight, and she could feel her eyelashes grazing against his palm. And then, that hand moved away, and his fingers slid all the way down from the bridge of her nose to her cheek, until they finally came to rest on her lips.
His hand, for once, was not cool.
It seemed that since his surgery and return, it was not often that his body temperature felt normal.
The pads of his fingers had the slightly rough texture expected of a man, and when they brushed against her lips, it felt tickly and warm. Tong Yan bit down on her lip to try to stop that ticklish sensation, and laughing, she skirted away from him. “I made pudding for you, milk pudding.”
She sidestepped away quickly and pulled out the food storage container sealed with its locking lid. She had even deliberately bought some aluminum foil tart pans from the supermarket, and each pudding was packaged very meticulously, like a Portugese egg tart in one of Macau’s cafés.
Taking a seat on the couch, Gu Pingsheng patted the spot next to him. Tong Yan immediately was very fawningly obedient, and with the box held between her hands, she kicked her sneakers off using one foot to help the other, hopped onto the couch, and sat down cross-legged on it. “Here, eat.”
Holding one by the foil tart pan, Tong Yan brought the pudding up to his lips.
The corner of his lips turned upwards, and he lowered his head and took a bite.
“Have you felt unwell at all lately?”
“Once summer is past, it will be much better. There are no big problems with my heart. Mainly, it’s just right here.” Gu Pingsheng placed a hand over the upper part of his chest. “Don’t think of it as something that serious. SARS is a type of pneumonia, and pneumonia is something that most people have had during their childhood.”
His facial expression and tone of voice were light. Tong Yan leaned her elbow into the back cushion of the couch, propping her head up on her hand and watching him absorbedly as he ate.
Gu Pingsheng truly had good habits during eating. He did not speak, and in two bites, he had finished one pudding.
At once, she replenished his food supply and gestured to him to continue eating. Gu Pingsheng pushed his lips out as a hint and did not move, the smile on his face becoming deeper. Fine. She had to admit that, despite being a teacher who served the people, he sometimes still really knew how to inject fun and delight into things.
She very sensibly obliged him. Pinching the edge of the foil pan beside the pudding with both hands, she fed him.
When Gu Pingsheng went to take a shower, she took their clean clothes out from the backpack.
Hearing that the sound of water had essentially stopped, she picked up his clean underwear and shirt, walked over to the bathroom door, and pushed it open by a crack, intending on setting the clothing down on the marble counter.
She had not expected that when she glanced in the mirror, she would see him completely unclothed and shaving his face with a razor.
Tong Yan thought he had not detected her presence and quietly took half a step back, pretending that she had not seen anything as she pulled the door shut. However, the next second, she wordlessly pushed it open again and leaned herself against the doorframe, watching him.
In the mirror, Gu Pingsheng returned her gaze. There was still shaving cream on his face, and he was using his fingers to feel for any spots he might have missed. Even though he had toweled himself dry, beneath the lighting, his body still glowed with the sheen of moisture.
“In your opinion”—Tong Yan stepped over to his side, trying to focus all of her gaze on only his face—“are human beings very fragile?”
Without answering, he picked up a damp towel and wiped his jaw clean.
While she was still planning in her mind what were the appropriate words to use to express what she wanted to say, he had already put down his towel, lifted her up, and set her down so she was sitting on the edge of the sink. The place where she was seated was very narrow, and she could only wrap her arms around his bare back to maintain her balance.
“What are you trying to say?”
Tong Yan’s throat felt dry and hot, and she licked at her lips. “I miss you. If your work from now on is going to be really busy, will it be better if we have a child? One who can miss you with me.”
The bathroom after a shower was very humid and several degrees higher in temperature than the bedroom. The humidity and temperature as well as his appearance at this moment were all combining to silently cloak these words with a suggestive, sensual overtone.
His lips came together and curled upwards. “That sounds pretty nice.”
Upon stating this, he lowered his head, but he did not bring his mouth to hers, instead letting his kisses begin on her cheek, trail over the indentation below her jaw, and stop at her neck. Then his lips parted, and his teeth took hold of the delicate cartilage above her throat.
His lips and teeth razed against her neck. Instantly, a numb limpness and fluttering of her heart she had never before experienced flooded through her every nerve.
Warmth. Moistness. Breath that seemed to burn.
She was enclosed tightly in his arms, unable to move at all. Her mouth and tongue were dry. Her throat was held captive between his lips and teeth so that she did not even dare swallow. Her entire body felt so weak she could not even sit and slipped backwards down the curve of the sink.
It was fortunate that his hand was supporting her back, so she at least did not completely fall backwards.
Second after second, minute after minute. Over and over again.
This torture of extreme intimacy nearly suffocated her.
At last, he raised his head, seeking a kiss. Tong Yan’s lips were parched, and amid his deepening action, she obligingly extended the tip of her tongue to probe into his mouth, letting him tightly, closely intertwine with her in a kiss.
Supporting her with one hand, the other hand began to methodically unfasten her clothing.
“Yan Yan?” He was calling her, but he did not lift his head to look at her face. His voice, which had been moistened by the steam in the room, was somewhat husky, and in the warm air surrounding them that had not yet dissipated, it sounded particularly tender and beguiling.
She gave an “mm,” treating it as if he could hear her.
His hand followed the curve of her back as it slid down. Lifting up her entire body, he slowly entered her.
Tong Yan breathed in deeply. Inch by inch, her strength and ability to think were drawn from her, and in the delirium of passion, she caressed her face against his … After a very long time, he took another shower with her. The warm water spraying upon their hair and bodies felt absurdly good. When she climbed into bed, there was not an ounce of strength left in her whole body, and the instant her head touched her pillow, her awareness became more and more fuzzy.
But she was forced to deal with his question of whether she wanted to blowdry her hair.
When she awoke again, it was already past eleven o’clock the next day. With whirring hums, the central heating blew out hot air, and the room was so warm it could cause people to forget what season it was outside.
The thick curtains had been completely drawn, and if she had not looked at her watch, she would not have realized it was already approaching the time for lunch. Sitting up in bed, she felt that her lower back was so sore it felt limp. Very quickly, she remembered that as he was blowing her hair, he had, from behind, pulled her into his arms. His palm had rested against her lower abdomen. And then, it had slid downwards … Besides the sensation of his lips against her back, she could not clearly recall any other details at all …
After getting dressed, Tong Yan discovered that Gu Pingsheng was not in the room, but he had left her some breakfast. Spread open on the table was one of the resort brochures, and in black pen, a location had been circled. It should be the place where he had gone.
Tong Yan hastily polished off all of the food and then took a shuttle bus to find him.
The sky had been dark when she arrived the previous evening, so she had not been able to look closely at the scenery along the way. This hour was the time of day when the sunlight was at its best, and as the shuttle drove along the perimeter of a lake, the atmosphere of late autumn could be felt much heavier here than in the city. When she jumped out of the vehicle, she saw, off in the distance at the end of a row of sun umbrellas, that person leaning back in a lounge chair beneath one of the umbrellas, reading.
The fishing rod in front of him was there entirely for appearances.
She followed the graveled pathway that had been laid along the brook’s edge, and because she had intentionally dressed herself up, she drew many gazes. However, her eyes were focused only on that person who was engrossed in his reading.
Crouching down beside him, she asked, “What time did you get up?”
“A little past seven o’clock.” Gu Pingsheng set his book aside. “I thought you were going to sleep all the way into the afternoon.”
Tong Yan could hear the implied meaning in his words. Turning her face away to look instead at the fishing float bobbing on the surface of the water, she chose not to respond to him.
Since this resort had specifically allocated an area for you to go fishing, then of course they were adequately prepared for it. All around them, there were people crying out that they had a bite, and basically, with every two or three times of pulling up on the rod, there would be a fish on the hook. By the looks of it, these fish were not small either.
Tong Yan was enthusiastically watching when all of a sudden, he patted her on the shoulder. “Mrs. Gu, if you don’t reel in your rod, your fish is going to get away.”
Suddenly grasping his meaning, she turned around to see that Gu Pingsheng’s fishing float had already slipped under the surface, and she hurriedly jumped up. “How do I reel it in, how do I do it?”
Gu Pingsheng also stood and chuckled as he taught her. By the time she had learned what to do, though, the fish had already gotten away.
“Look at you, how lazy you are.” Tong Yan looked crossly at him. “You should have just pulled it in yourself. Instead, you were counting on me, a fishing idiot, to do the reeling in …”
“The problem is, fishing to me is just something to pass the time. Watching you fish is what is actually fun.” Gu Pingsheng baited the hook and continued on to cast the line before unperturbedly taking a seat again.
Squeezing herself on so that she was sharing his lounge chair, she sat snug up against him.
“Why do you all of a sudden want to have a baby?” he suddenly asked her.
“Because life is unpredictable.” Gazing directly into his eyes, she told him, “We’re not like other people. We definitely are not going to separate. So I don’t want to wait until some sort of tragedy or disaster happens before I recognize that there were things I should have done but did not do.”
The wind by the lakeside was somewhat chilly. She was dressed rather lightly, and her hands were already a little cold.
“You’ve made me come to realize one thing: in the face of love, one’s personal principles can become completely worthless and inconsequential.” He pulled open his winter coat and encircled her in his embrace. As the wind penetrated through his words, his voice carried a bewitching quality that could cause a person to sin. “Since Mrs. Gu is so eager, Mr. Gu will certainly work his hardest on the task.”
蛋挞”dan ta” egg tart or 葡式蛋挞 “Pu shi dan ta” Portugese egg tart. Macau is known for its Portugese egg tarts, which are a baked egg custard in a flaky shell pastry. (Probably the most notable visual difference from the Hong Kong-style egg tarts is the caramelized-looking top of the Portugese-style.) While you can find them in many places in Macau, there are a couple of bakeries and cafes that are famous for them.
2021/January: Revisiting this couple that touches my heart so much.
I think Gu Pingsheng and Tong Yan would be loving parents. Honest. Yes, they will have doubts about themselves since neither of them really had a parent role model they could follow, but they will be loving parents.
Alas, the one thing is, as much as Tong Yan feels solid about her relationship with Gu Pingsheng, I feel they’re not ready. I think Tong Yan is carrying fear in her, and her desire for a baby comes at least partially from that. It’s awesome that they want to get married and are confident about that (and sad that all because of a document, they were unable to get married), but in addition to wedlock (mentioned because my personal conviction is that it should be dating, marriage, sex, children—in that order) and confidence in that, Tong Yan also needs to work things out. Yes, if a baby comes, she will love the child, and yes the little one will be precious to her and Gu Pingsheng and she will do her best. But to be the best for her baby, she needs a healthy mental state to take care of the child… And you can see there’s a lot of pressure on her right now.
1 of 1 Prologue
50 of 66 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogue segments